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Leadership and governance

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The leadership and governance of health systems, also called stewardship, is arguably the most complex but critical building block of any health system.[1] It is about the role of the government in health and its relation to other actors whose activities impact on health. This involves overseeing and guiding the whole health system, private as well as public, in order to protect the public interest.

It requires both political and technical action, because it involves reconciling competing demands for limited resources in changing circumstances, for example with rising expectations, more pluralistic societies, decentralization or a growing private sector. There is increased attention to corruption and calls for a more human rights based approach to health. There is no blueprint for effective health leadership and governance. While ultimately it is the responsibility of government, this does not mean all leadership and governance functions have to be carried out by central ministries of health.

Experience suggests that there are some key functions common to all health systems, irrespective of how these are organized:

  • Policy guidance: formulating sector strategies and also specific technical policies; defining goals, directions and spending priorities across services; identifying the roles of public, private and voluntary actors and the role of civil society.
  • Intelligence and oversight: ensuring generation, analysis and use of intelligence on trends and differentials in inputs, service access, coverage, safety; on responsiveness, financial protection and health outcomes, especially for vulnerable groups; on the effects of policies and reforms; on the political environment and opportunities for action; and on policy options.
  • Collaboration and coalition building: across sectors in government and with actors outside government, including civil society, to influence action on key determinants of health and access to health services; to generate support for public policies and to keep the different parts connected – so called "joined up government".
  • Regulation: designing regulations and incentives and ensuring they are fairly enforced.
  • System design: ensuring a fit between strategy and structure and reducing duplication and fragmentation.
  • Accountability: ensuring all health system actors are held publicly accountable. Transparency is required to achieve real accountability.
Leadership and governance.jpg

An increasing range of instruments and institutions exists to carry out the functions required for effective leadership and governance. Instruments include:

  • sector policies and medium-term expenditure frameworks
  • standardized benefit packages
  • resource allocation formulae
  • performance-based contracts
  • patients' charters
  • explicit government commitments to non-discrimination and public participation
  • public fee schedules.

Institutions involved may include:

  • other ministries, parliaments and their committees
  • other levels of government
  • independent statutory bodies such as professional councils, inspectorates and audit commissions
  • nongovernment organization "watch dogs" and a free media.

This section of the health system profile is structured as follows:


Résumé analytique

The English content will be available soon.

La loi 12/95 du 14 janvier 1995 fixe les orientations de la politique de santé en République Gabonaise, et le Ministère de la Santé est régi par le décret n°1158/PR/MSPP du 4 septembre 1997 portant attributions, organisation et fonctionnement du Ministère de la Santé Publique et de la Population.

Mais d’une part, le cadre organique du Ministère de la Santé défini par ces deux textes présente des lacunes ; d’autre part, plusieurs services créés par eux ne sont pas dotés de leurs textes particuliers, ce qui a pour conséquence leur inexistence de fait ou leur fonctionnement sans base réglementaire. D’une manière générale, les incohérences du décret n° 1158/PR/MSPP nuisent fortement aux directions centrales du Ministère ainsi qu’aux institutions de réglementation dans l’exécution de leurs missions, ce qui affaiblit le leadership du Ministère en charge de la Santé et ralentit l’exécution des programmes de développement en général et des programmes de santé en particulier.

L’absence de structure de coordination des trois secteurs de santé (public, parapublic et privé) se traduit par des dysfonctionnements importants. Ainsi, on observe de nombreux chevauchements et duplications dans l’offre de soins, l’absence d’harmonisation de la tarification des actes, et l’insuffisance de contrôle du Ministère de la Santé sur les secteurs de santé parapublic et privé, notamment pour ce qui est des normes de constructions, du financement, et de l’approvisionnement en médicaments1.

Contexte et historique du système de Santé

Ministère de la santé et autres institutions impliquées dans les questions sociales et de la santé

Elaboration de la politique et de la planification sanitaire

Réglementation, suivi et évaluation

Priorités et pistes pour l'avenir


Notes de fin: sources, méthodes, abréviations, etc.


  1. Everybody’s business. Strengthening health systems to improve health outcomes. WHO’s framework for action (pdf 843.33kb). Geneva, World Health Organization, 2007